Thurston Car Talk: Electric Cooling Fans


Submitted by Bron at Bron’s Automotive

Summer is here and it’s weather like this that shows any weakness in your car’s cooling system.

One thing that is different from the cars of yesteryear is that with front wheel drive cars, an electric cooling fan is needed to pull air through the radiator.  When the temperature is cool, as in the winter, the fan rarely comes on.  When the car is moving down the street, air is forced across the radiator and the fan is not needed because of the rush of air through the radiator.

It’s when you get stuck in traffic on a hot summer day that a defective cooling fan will make itself known.  It’s normal for your temperature gauge to rise up to the ¾ mark, at which time you will hear the cooling fan come on and see the gauge drop back down.  If the gauge continues up to the red, you have a problem that must be addressed.

Sometimes you can bring the gauge back down by getting the car up to speed.  You can also turn off the air conditioning and turn up the heater full blast to remove some heat from the engine.  If either of these do not work, pull over and turn the car off.  Do not ever drive with the temperature gauge in the red, even for a short while.  Catastrophic engine damage may result.

Hopefully you have AAA and can get it towed to your favorite shop.  Bron’s Automotive is an AAA approved automotive repair shop.  For a complete list, go to

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